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Alexander, Sarah (1971-)


Main image of Alexander, Sarah (1971-)

With her sexy yet often caustic demeanour, the wide-eyed, seductively pretty Sarah Alexander enlivens any project, whether it involves murmuring "Let's get squidgy" to an all-too compliant Jack Davenport in Coupling (BBC, 2000-4) or dancing naked around mock-rural kitchens in Nude Practice, the pitch-perfect spoofs of rural melodramas in Armstrong and Miller (BBC, 1997-2001).

She was born on 3rd January 1971 in London, and began her career with small roles in the usual fare, a Bill (ITV, 1992/4) here and a Lovejoy (BBC, 1993) there. However, her cut-glass vowels and head-girl appearance proved as suited to comedy as to drama. Her collaboration with Alexander Armstrong and Ben Miller on their eponymous show was perfectly judged, with her frequent appearances making her practically the third team member. . She was also an early mainstay of the pioneering female sketch show Smack The Pony (Channel 4, 1999-2001), taking to its wacky surrealism and ludicrous character acting like a duck to water.

Her ability to do deadpan comedy to perfection was under-utilised in the disappointing final run of The 11 O'Clock Show (Channel 4, 2000), which suffered from the loss of Sacha Baron Cohen and Ricky Gervais from previous series. But her appearance in Coupling as Susan, the ensemble's nominally "straight" woman, showcased her dual capacity for both witty underplaying, and a way with one-liners that made fairly ordinary put-downs of masculine incompetence sound like some lost gem of Oscar Wilde's Lady Bracknell. The inferiority of the programme's American remake showed how much she and the rest of the cast were integral to the show's success. Her own appearance in the Americanised remake of Channel 4's Teachers (NBC, 2006) demonstrated that such very English humour travels poorly across the Atlantic.

Her two most high-profile recent roles have seen her utilise both facets of her comic ability. In the old-fashioned farce The Worst Week of My Life (BBC, 2004-5), which saw her reuniting with Ben Miller, she again played it (relatively) straight as the exasperated bride and mother-to-be Mel, as her husband found himself in ever-increasing depths of bungling fecklessness and incompetence. Another reunion was with Smack The Pony writer Victoria Pile for the medical comedy Green Wing (Channel 4, 2004-6), in which Alexander brilliantly exploited her sternly bossy mode as the apparently normal but secretly insane Dr Angela Hunter, whose onscreen presence itself gave many of the bizarre goings-on an extra lunatic twist.

Alexander Larman

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Thumbnail image of Smack the Pony (1999-2002)Smack the Pony (1999-2002)

Female sketch trio/quartet with a distinctive take on sexual politics

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Thumbnail image of Mackichan, Doon (1962-)Mackichan, Doon (1962-)

Actor, Performer, Writer